What kind of fighter will we see in the cage when Conor McGregor returns against Michael Chandler sometime in late 2023?
That’s one of the most intriguing questions surrounding the fight (aside from which weight class it will be contended at). Or, when McGregor will finally return to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool.
According to Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, McGregor is stepping back from his recent boxing style and returning to the karate style that served him so well through his Featherweight days.
“Man, for one, for somebody to come up with an injury like that, this guy,” Thompson said in a new episode of Submission Radio. “Like, his mindset was like it didn’t even happen, that injury didn’t even happen. And he’s getting back to his roots, his karate.
“He’s never taken karate in his life,” he continued. “But, he’s trained with a lot of karate fighters, and that’s kind of where he got his movement from. So, for instance, when he fought Jose Aldo, his movement, his wide stance, his speed was on point. Like, he’s back to that, man, at a heavier weight, which is scary.
“If you ever shook Conor’s hand, the dude’s got a bigger fist than I do,” Thompson added. “Like he’s got a melon of a fist. I’m like, ‘What the heck, man?’ No wonder he puts people out with that one hitter quitter punch. But, he’s back to his movement, man. You’re gonna see a better [Conor].
“I think he’s listened to the fans,” Thompson continued. “You know, his last two fights with Poirier was kind of in that boxer mentality. He’s gotta get back to his roots of movement, and that’s what we’re gonna see from Conor next time he steps out there.”
While guest coaches on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 31 are being kept well under wraps, it’s all but confirmed that Thompson has been helping Team McGregor over the past several weeks of filming.
“Dude, he’s a great coach,” Thompson said. “And, he cares a lot about his guys. And that’s fun to watch and see, because, me coming from that, that’s what I do for a living. And to be able to see Conor kind of share that, you know?
“I’ve seen a lot of guys teach, and you realize real quick that they don’t care about it,” Thompson concluded. “And I always tell people this, when it comes to teaching, people don’t really care how much you know, we only wanna know how much you care. And that was kind of Conor the whole time. Like, he cared about his guys.”
The date and location for Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler is unknown at this time. Nevertheless, TUF 31 will debut on May 30, 2023, and run until Aug. 15, 2023.
As for “Wonderboy,” he’s looking to continue fighting stand-up opponents after a solid win over Kevin Holland in Dec. 2022. In an ideal world, he’s hoping to fight Michel Pereira next rather than an up-and-coming killer such as Shavkat Rakhmonov.
For more TUF 31-related news and notes on the upcoming season click here.